Bulletin into 12.10.07
Last week I read a book called ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy – which changed the way I see our world. In it, an environmental catastrophe has destroyed our planet – all animal and plant life has been killed. A grey ash covers everything – pollutes the air – masks the sun. The few surviving humans are feral – live by foraging – by hunting and eating each other – civilisation has collapsed.
Through this ravaged landscape, a man and a boy move slowly south – pushing their possessions in a shopping trolley. We follow their terrible adventures and privations – they have no names – it’s the story of us all – in extremis – digging deep for courage to keep going. Reading this book, I felt several times that, in their position, I’d choose death – but in the end it’s a redemptive story. McCarthy believes that someone, somewhere, will always ‘carry the fire’ of human compassion – so that it can be rekindled. Through all the bleakness and terror he asserts the supremacy of courage and tenderness and hope. For me, it’s a masterwork – the first great novel of the global warming generation.
I read ‘The Road’ in an evening and a morning – 10 straight hours. Afterwards, shaken, I strolled in the woods near my house. Soft afternoon rain – the trees turning their amazing October colours – giving up their seeds and fruit – the birds, squirrels, rabbits, celebrating the harvest. I feel a surge of joy and gratitude that it’s not too late to enjoy all this teeming life – that our planet still lives. Amazing how a story can shift the way we see things.